Tableland Bushwalking Club

Club President Sally McPhee

The Tableland Bushwalking Club is based on the Atherton Tablelands in North Queensland, approximately 90 kilometres south-west of Cairns. The Club was incorporated in 1990 and recently celebrated 25 years of continual existence. We currently have 90 members and 30-40 of these are regular walkers. Club walks are every second Wednesday and Sunday and include visits to national parks, state forests and private land.

Arthurs Seat

West Mulgrave Falls

The Tablelands is a sub-tropical region, but because of its elevation of 750 metres we experience mild weather, though parts of the area can be wet. In the south-west, Millaa Millaa has an average rainfall of 3000 mm a year, while to the north at Walkamin, rainfall averages 1000 mm a year. From a walker’s point of view we are blessed with a fantastic range of landscapes to explore.

The area has wonderful rainforest and waterfalls, spectacular beaches, enticing sclerophyll forest and, further to the west, the dry open savannah plains and the rocky formations of outback Australia. This means that we are never short of a different destination, and all are within an hour’s drive of Atherton.

I could spend the entire article just discussing the spectacular waterfalls in our region, but I want to highlight the diversity of walks by concentrating on four or five walks. The first is the Hann Tableland National Park, an undeveloped wilderness located on the western edge of the Tablelands.

One of the main features of the park is a long narrow U-shaped granite rim surrounding Boyle Creek. While the top of the rim has magnificent granite slopes and boulders, the edge of Boyle Creek harbours a micro rainforest environment offering a cool retreat from the surrounding hard landscape, and also provides an opportunity for a refreshing dip.

Granite slopes Hann Tableland

Rainforest Pool Wooroonoonan

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Another area the Club enjoys walking in is the Wooroonooran National Park, a huge 800 square kilometre area of mostly rainforest and home to Queensland’s two highest mountains, Bartle Frere 1622 metres and Bellenden Kerr 1592 metres. The park offers numerous day and overnight walks, including the Gorrell Track, the Bartle Frere Track, the Goldsborough (Goldfield) Track and the Misty Mountain Trails.

An area I love is the rainforest wilderness below Bartle Frere, an area originally explored in the 1880s by Christie Palmerston (with the help of native guides and trails) in his search for gold. Apart from white water enthusiasts and keen fisherman the area is little visited. Bartle Frere has the most fantastic crystal-clear rainforest streams, majestic waterfalls and wild rainforest.

An area I love is the rainforest wilderness below Bartle Frere, an area originally explored in the 1880s by Christie Palmerston (with the help of native guides and trails) in his search for gold. Apart from white water enthusiasts and keen fisherman the area is little visited. Bartle Frere has the most fantastic crystal-clear rainforest streams, majestic waterfalls and wild rainforest.

Stannery Hills

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One favoured saying during the wet season is “Go west, young man,” because we know it will be drier than close to the coast. Often these areas are of historical significance, particularly in relation to Australia’s early mining history. One such destination is Stannery Hills, an abandoned tin mining district 30 kilometres west of Atherton. At its height in the early years of the twentieth century, 800 people lived and worked here, but the only signs are two dams and the remains of a two foot narrow gauge railway, which took tin to a nearby battery. It’s a great wet season or winter walking area, but too hot for summer walking.


Mt. Misch

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Drier locations close to home include Mount Misch, Mount Emerald and Walshs Bluff, all part of the Great Dividing Range. The top of Mount Misch is rainforest and has two small streams and the remains of world War II bunkers used for training the soldiers in tropical conditions. The other two are drier, open and rocky and provide great 360° views of the surrounding tablelands.

There are also some great overnight trips available in the region. On Hinchinbrook Island is the 32 kilometre Thorsborne Trail. If you want to race it can be done in less than four days, but take five or six days and explore all the side trails. The walk can be done from either the north or south and the camp sites are either along the beach, or at the two waterfalls. For the really adventurous there is a chance to explore the remains of the World War II B-24 Liberator that crashed into Mt Straloch in 1942, or to climb Mount Bowen (a boulder-hopping 1121 metres high), with an overnight stay recommended.

Hinchinbrook Island

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Another backpacking challenge for the adventurous is the 1350 metre climb of Thortons Peak (Queensland’s fourth highest mountain), near the coast north of the Daintree River. The mountain is mostly rainforest and notorious for its misty wet weather.

Near the top, the forest gives way to a huge boulder field, an area not for the faint-hearted, as you have to leap from one boulder to another without thinking of the crevices below. From the top you get 360° views to surrounding rainforest, the Daintree River, beaches and out to the Coral Sea.

Thortons Peak

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I can’t think of enough superlatives to

describe our bushwalking area, so when in
north Queensland, come walking with us.
See our website at tablelandsbushwalking.org.

View from Bell Peak